Graduate Certificate in Statistical Genetics

Statistical genetics is a rapidly growing specialty area within the field of Biostatistics, which requires knowledge of genetics, of the technology used to study variability of genes and gene expression in human populations, and of specific statistical approaches used to study these data.

The statistical genetics certificate program will provide students with specialized training and acquisition of skills in the analysis of genetic data. Individuals completing the program will be familiar with a variety of types of genetic data (genotyping, expression, sequence data) as well as statistical methods for data summary and analysis, with an emphasis on analysis relating genetic information to human health outcomes.


To be eligible applicants must have:

  1. a bachelor’s degree in statistics, biostatistics or a related quantitative field, or hold or be enrolled in a program for an advanced degree (MPH, MA, MS, PhD, or DSc) in a quantitative or genetics-related field
  2. completed prerequisite statistical courses
  3. programming experience.

Application requirements

For application deadlines, requirements, and instructions, please visit the Admissions section for Graduate Certificates in Biostatistics.


  1. Completion of 16 credits of statistical genetics coursework
    1. At least two of these courses must include:
      • BS858: Statistical Genetics I
      • BS859: Applied Genetic Analysis or BS860: Statistical Genetics II
    2. The remaining courses may be selected from among:
      • BS830: Design and Analysis of Microarray Experiments
      • BS857: Analysis of Correlated Data
      • BS859: Applied Genetic Analysis
      • BS860: Statistical Genetics II
      • BS901: Directed Study in Biostatistics*
      • BS902: Directed Research in Biostatistics*
      • PH984: Directed Practicum may replace BS902 by permission of program director.
      • MA770: Mathematical and Statistical Methods of Bioinformatics
  2. No more than 4 credits of Directed Study or Directed Research may count toward the certificate. Continuing student status may not apply towards the certificate.
  3. A grade of B must be obtained in all coursework counting towards the certificate.
  4. At least one presentation on research or literature at the Statistical Genetics Working Group
  5. Complete at least one piece of substantial research in the field of statistical genetics leading to a first author position on an abstract submitted to a national/international meeting (including the Genetic Analysis Workshop) or BU symposium (e.g. Genome Science Institute Symposium or Science and Engineering Day) or leading to primary authorship on a manuscript submitted to a peer reviewed journal. Primary authorship would be considered first (or joint-first), second or last (or joint-last authorship) **.

It is expected that it would take 18 months to 2 years to complete all program requirements.

Upon completion of the Statistical Genetics graduate certificate, students will be able to:

  • analyze data from genetics and genomics studies using statistical programming software and genetic analysis software;
  • identify potential sources of bias and confounding in family, population-based, and case-control study designs for genetic and genomic studies, and develop analytic and design strategies to minimize these effects;
  • and interpret and communicate the results and limitations of statistical analyses of genetic and genomic data in both technical and nontechnical terms.

For students who are currently enrolled in a Boston University degree program, courses may count towards both the degree and the certificate. However, completion of the certificate may require taking additional credits beyond those required to complete the degree. Courses from the above list taken at Boston University prior to enrollment in the certificate program can be counted towards the completion of the certificate. However, the certificate cannot be awarded to students or alumni who completed all requirements prior to the initiation of this certificate program.

*Approval of topics for Directed Studies, Directed Research, and the piece of substantial research must be obtained from the Statistical Genetics Certificate Program Committee. This committee will consist of faculty members from the Biostatistics Department.

**Authorship on statistical genetics papers involving large studies or consortium is complex. Students can petition the Statistical Genetics Certificate Program Committee regarding other authorship positions. Research for the certificate may be completed as part of a dissertation or an existing collaboration or project the student is involved in. If the student does not have a research opportunity available to them, they will identify one of the statistical genetics certificate faculty members as a research mentor.